Thursday, 4 March 2010


Kikuko is a married woman who, despite being beset by problems, always puts on an upbeat façade, particularly when talking to her caring parents-in-law. The biggest issue she faces is her crumbling relationship with husband Shuichi, an officious individual who is cheating on her. Watching Shuichi’s sister interact unenthusiastically with her own children, Kikuko begins to question the virtues of raising a child from an unhappy marriage, and soon accepts that her own fate is as good as doomed. Disappointed by the negligence of his own children, father-in-law Shingo lavishes attention on Kikuko and provides her with succour. The relationship grows stronger than ever, transcending familial boundaries, but Shingo is constantly reminded that, by betraying his own son, he is no better than him.

Based on the eponymous novel by Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, Sound of the Mountain is a subtle but comprehensive study of a family concerned with expectations and responsibility. The films of director Mikio Naruse often feature women who quietly carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and Kikuko is a fine example of this, balancing her own wishes and desires with those of her adopted family. Naruse’s film also reflects neatly on themes of death and memory, particularly in the character of Shingo. As he succumbs to old age, Shingo holds on to the fragments of the past that may never resurface, and his romantic feelings for Kikuko echo a former longing he had for his wife’s deceased sister. An elegant family drama.

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